The suites available at Deep Dish $9 were predictably not up to Admiral Kathy Safeway’s peculiar standards, so she had opted for renting a room at one of Bajor’s four-star hotels. Captain Clerk groused a little at having to make the extra trek down to the planet, but, picking his battles, had decided not to make too big a deal of it.

The trip, in his mind, was not only needlessly long but needlessly silent, since Safeway didn't want to get into whatever this urgent business of hers was until they were at their destination. To make matters worse, they got lost — twice — and then, upon arriving at the hotel, Kathy realized she'd locked her key in the room, causing them to have to wait for the hotel manager to show up.

What Clerk hadn't anticipated was that this was going to be the easy part.


Clerk sat at one side of the table, leaning on one elbow, and absentmindedly toying with the half-eaten, brightly-colored cubes on his plate.

“Let me get this straight,” he said after a long break in the conversation. “You want to get married. To me. After we've broken up eight times—”

“Seven times.”

Eight times. You know we've discussed this before… like, every other time we've gotten back together…”

“But it's different this time,” Safeway interrupted, pleading a little bit. “You said it yourself.”

Clerk rubbed his eyes. “What I said was—”

“Oh, no. Don't go there,” Safeway interrupted again, waving her hands dismissively. She sighed and braced herself. “So are you going to propose to me or not?”

Had Clerk been drinking anything, a spit-take would have ensued.

“Call your shots, Kathy!” he exclaimed, suddenly shooting straight up in his chair. He sat there in a bit of a daze for a few moments, grasping at straws for a good comeback. “Being an admiral sure has made you more get-to-the-point, hasn't it?” Oh, I can do better than that. I'm off my game tonight.

“I'm serious, Jimi.”

“I know. That's what scares me.”

Safeway facepalmed. “Why? You know half the Fleet thinks we're already married.”

“Yeah,” Clerk replied with a laugh, relaxing and resuming his previous sitting position. He gathered his thoughts in silence for a few moments. “But isn't there some regulation regarding officers getting married, or something?”

“Oh, you're thinking of Regulation 718-38, section 76, paragraph 962. It's really more along the lines of relationships interfering with duties, but not necessarily the relationships themselves. I mean, if that were the case, we'd be guilty already.”

“That's true,” Clerk conceded. Taking a huge breath, he sat up again, placing his hands on his knees. “So we're doing this?”

Safeway nodded. “Mm-hmm.”

Captain Clerk wasn't really the type of guy to get nervous. Getting absolutely petrified was more his style. Yet, oddly enough, he somehow had developed a distinct lack of anxiety. Mostly.

“Alrighty then.” Clerk stood up, and Safeway followed suit. After steeling himself for the inevitability of the situation, he began: “Kathy Safeway, will you m—”

YES!” Kathy exclaimed, not even letting the question run its course. She threw her arms around his neck. “I thought you'd never ask!”

Clerk nervously returned the hug, having been blindsided by Safeway’s use of the element of surprise, which had also rendered him momentarily speechless.

After a few moments, Safeway pulled back to look Clerk in the eyes. Her expression rapidly changed from giddy excitement to her regular Deadpan Mode. “Seriously, I thought you'd never ask.”

Clerk thought for a second, then shrugged. “Well, you know my glacial pace for working through my to-do list. Still… better late than never, am I right?”

Safeway’s acerbic wit failed her temporarily, so she fell back on the old exchange they'd come up with in their early months of dating. “Say you love me.”

“You love me,” Clerk replied as a slightly mischievous smile made its way onto his face.

Safeway laughed and shook her head. “What am I gonna do with you?”

“Marry me, apparently.”